Thursday, 18 February 2016

Caught in the Moment

Today, I am tidying up. Out of a box under the bed tumbled a heap of photographs, some, like this one, capturing moments long-forgotten from times well-past.

I am thinking this was taken by my cousin Marylyn on a beach in Scotland in 1964, or '65. The three subjects are Geoffrey (Marylyn's husband) Robert (small boy) and Adrian, my brother.
I am not here. It was Adrian's turn to be taken camping by our closest family. I think I begrudged him the treat at the time.

Adrian died, aged just 42, a year or two before the millennium that we had assumed, when we were young, we'd celebrate together.  Geoffrey is dying of Alzheimer's disease and wouldn't know me if I saw him. Why would he? Ten years after this photo was taken, he and Marylyn divorced and we met only once after that - at her funeral. Robert battled decades of depression, then one day just upped and left his wife and daughters, never to be seen again. It happens.

When I teased this photograph out of the pile, I smiled. Their stories have come to an end, as mine must one day, but the photo carries a message: the ending is not the WHOLE story.

Funnily enough, that's a comfort.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Greatest Of These Is Love

I don't remember too much about High School. I survived it relatively unscathed, though I have to say the casual, not-even-cruel neglect of we 'working class' girls ensures that I will be a socialist until my dying day, but I have something to be profoundly thankful for. Spiritual awakening.

Nothing at all to do with Religious Education Class, or the daily act of worship, which were rigorously adhered to in State Schools in the 1960's: no, this potted God made little impression on me. Three times a year, at the beginning of each term the truly dreadful headteacher, Hilda Mortimer, would read aloud from the Bible. "Though I may speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity then I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal ... " which, I have to say, sums Mort up. BOING .. BOING ..

I can't remember when Paul's letter to the pretty-screwed -up community in Corinth finally began to make an impression, maybe not even at the time, but one day I got it. I just got it. Love is all that matters, and it's all that remains when everything else has faded away.

Today I have roses and a dinner with wine, for romance is amazing and good and fun, but to my mind, it's not 'true' love.

You won't know this until you've lived a bit. The teenage me that snuck out at lunch time to sneak a few kisses with William, still smiles, but this sexagenarian knows better. True love is what is present when two aging people can look back on a life of giving out to one another, to their children, to their community, and say, "It wasn't always easy, but it was worth it!"


The very best talk I have ever heard on that profoundly beautiful segment on love in the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians can be found here:

(Warning! It's not sentimental!)